With damaging, high profile data breaches continuing to dominate news headlines, millennials—individuals born roughly between the years 1980 and the early 2000s—are showing increasing distrust in the efforts of government agencies and businesses to protect personal information online, according to the results of a new cybersecurity survey.
The Millennial survey intended to gage the current attitudes of the generation towards government institutions and business industries as it relates to online security and data privacy.
The new research, commissioned by cybersecurity company Intercede and conducted by Atomik Research in June 2015, is based on a new survey that polled 2000-plus American and British consumers of the millennial generation to gauge the generation’s views toward online security and data privacy.
The shifting attitudes reinforce Intercede’s earlier announced survey results.
The results of the survey point to a disturbing lack of trust among millennials in current public and private sector efforts and the need for immediate action from political and business leaders to ensure online data is secure, as well as an appetite for more effective cybersecurity safeguards.
In fact, the survey revealed only 4 percent of millennials put complete trust in their telecommunications operators; 15 percent of respondents place no trust in their operator; 25 percent place ‘a little;’ 37 percent ‘some’ and just 19 percent place ‘a lot.’
Moreover, most millennials state their level of trust as “none” or “little” for government institutions.
- High percentage of trust levels were rated as “little” or “none” across business and government;
- 19 percent for financial institutions;
- 38 percent for retailers;
- 61 percent for social media platforms; and
- 22 percent for federal/national government, as well as state/local government
“Millennials are hungry for change,” said Lubna Dajani, a communications technology expert and futurist. “The generation that has grown up in a digital-first world and witnessed the rapid advancement of connected devices and information access is now facing a fallout. Major data breaches happen every week, and millennials, along with the rest of the general public, have found the trust they put in government institutions and businesses to protect their digital identities are being shaken.”
“It’s no wonder," said Dajani, that "they are beginning to rebel against continued personal data access – something needs to be done. This is by no means an apathetic generation, if business and government leaders don’t adopt better protocols now, millennials will soon rise up and demand it.”
The millennial generation’s widespread lack of trust could potentially change the nature of online interactions with public agencies and corporations, since nearly 55 percent of millennials said a failure of companies and governments to protect personal data will eventually lead to public distrust of goods and services and a decline in voluntary data sharing.
Moreover, 36 percent of respondents predicted demands for action and smaller – but still significant percentages – see a potential for a decline in economic or political stability. Consequently, immediate action is needed to avoid a future backlash over sub-standard security measures.
Millennials want the government and organizations they interact with to employ rigorous security measures in protecting the personal data they provide. Without effective online security and privacy measures, Intercede anticipates an eventual decline in data sharing, according to a previous report by the company.
When asked for their personal motivation for allowing companies to have access to their data, 23 percent of respondents stated they "believe they will have access to my data either way, so it doesn’t matter if I grant it to them or not.”
Only about half of those surveyed said they’d be willing to provide a summary of their interests in exchange for “free” product(s) or services, and only 40 percent would be willing to provide a summary of their shopping habits. In addition, 40 percent of millennials would be willing to allow companies’ access to their geographic location in exchange for targeted goods or services.
“Government and business need to step up to more effectively safeguard the private information of their constituents and customers online or risk eroding trust and further damage to their reputations,” said Richard Parris, CEO of Intercede. “Millennials are a prime and extensive demographic driving votes and dollars worldwide. Restoring digital trust by taking active measures to ensure privacy and secure personal data should be a top priority.”
The bottom line is the millennial generation is serious about digital security and will not settle for weak security protocols. Restoring digital trust needs to be a central focus for government agencies and corporations moving forward as the cybersecurity landscape becomes increasingly dangerous.